HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html President Reveals A Few Departing Thoughts
Pubdate: Sat, 09 Dec 2000
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (AR)
Copyright: 2000 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.
Contact:  121 East Capitol Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201


President Clinton suggests in an interview published in the latest issue of 
Rolling Stone that it's time to reform our prison system and to reconsider 
how we treat nonviolent drug offenders.

Clinton also said he probably would have run for president again if the 
Constitution had let him, and he confessed a sneaking empathy for a 
disgraced predecessor, Richard Nixon.

Does Clinton think he'd have won a third election?

"Yes. I do."

Rolling Stone's article combines information from interviews that the 
magazine's publisher, Jann S. Wenner, conducted with Clinton in October and 

Clinton's remarks about the prison system came Nov. 2 aboard Air Force One 
after Wenner asked him if he thought people should go to jail for 
possessing or even selling small amounts of marijuana.

"I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been de-criminalized in 
most places and should be," Clinton responded. "I think that what we really 
need -- one of the things that I ran out of time before I could do -- is a 
re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment."

Clinton said that there are "tons of" nonviolent offenders in prison, often 
because they have drug or alcohol problems. "Too many of them are getting 
out -- particularly out of the state systems -- without treatment, without 
education, without skills, without serious effort at job placement."

Clinton qualified that criticism by citing his brother's 4-gram-a-day 
cocaine habit. "So I'm not so sure that incarceration is all bad, even for 
drug offenders, depending on the facts."

But he said he believed we needed to reconsider mandatory sentences for 
drug use.

"I think we need to examine -- the natural tendency of the American people, 
because most of us are law-abiding, is to think when somebody does 
something bad, we ought to put them in jail and throw the key away. And 
what I think is we need a discriminating view."

On Nixon, Clinton said that "I always thought that he could have been a 
great president if he had been more trusting of the American people. I 
thought that somewhere way back there, something happened in terms of his 
ability to feel at home, at ease with the ebb and flow of human life and 
popular opinion."

Clinton, who said he had invited Nixon to the White House for a visit, said 
he treasured a "lucid, eloquent" letter the former president had written 
him from Russia just a month before his death.

During the visit, Clinton said, "he told me he identified with me because 
he thought the press had been too hard on me in '92 and that I had refused 
to die, and he liked that. He said a lot of life was just hanging on."
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